Ukraine settles down a bit as President Viktor Yanukovych is finally removed from office by his own government, putting an end to the violence between his forces and the opposition. True to form of most dictators forced out of office, this time by a unanimous vote from 328 members of parliament, he claimed to be overthrown by a “coup.” He also claims bandits and vandals have overtaken his country.
Yanukovych represents a man trying to hold onto power tooth and nail, and being sore about it when he finally loses. All of violence and bloodshed could have been avoided. The first clue that it was time to go was when so many demonstrators gathered to protest his decision to pull out of a deal with the European Union in favor of a direct bailout package by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The second clue should have been when the military refused to support him with suggestions that his government was “oppressive.”
Yanukovych implemented laws to curtail the demonstrations. His Berkut police has been the strong-arm of his policies to maintain control, using water cannons, stun grenades, and live rounds. His efforts to maintain power has cost the lives of dozens of people on both sides and injuries to hundreds. Yet he claims he was unlawfully removed, even defiant as he left the capital with the threat of sanctions against his government held over his head.
The basic problem of a dictatorship is that sooner or later enough people will become extremely dissatisfied with the rule of one no matter that he may couch his title with the term “president,” and maintain a cabinet that are supposed to represent a checks and balance against his rule.
As part of the agreement set down, former Prime Minister and charismatic leader of the Orange Revolution Yulia Tymoshenko was finally released from prison, originally jailed under suspicious reasons that the opposition believed was merely an excuse for Yanukovych to remove a political rival. It was always an unsettling point of contention with the opposition.
A published novel once stated that a back alley definition of politics was: The procedures and process used by those in control for dealing with those not in control. In the eyes of the opposition Yanukovych has certainly demonstrated he would go to just about any lengths to maintain control, and the violence surrounding his refusal to step down echoed just how far.
However, there is still the matter of Eastern Ukraine who largely supports Yanukovych and the notion of maintaining ties to Russia. How to satisfy the needs of both sides of the issue is going to prove problematic despite the change in government. Reinstating the 2009 constitution limiting the powers of the presidency may help alleviate this process as both sides will be represented in parliament on the issue.
Perhaps Tymoshenko will be able to ease tensions further and help chart a new political course for the Ukraine, one that doesn’t involve civil violence that is even now gripping other countries such as Syria and Egypt. In the end, the Ukraine, a country of some 45 million and a doorway between Russia and the European Commonwealth will need to chart its own identity to prevent another civil uprising such as the one that has just ended. However, at the moment, Ukraine is settling down to face the serious task of the country’s reconstruction.
Editorial by Lee Birdine